I have been working on something around the Chehalis closure and history of what, why, and how works its way in. I thought I would put up piece of the conversation as frankly I doubt many have any idea of how decisions made years ago drive issue of the present.

I believe the problem started in the mid-80s. Kinda convoluted, but.....

Up until then, the state (WDG/WDF) had sole conservation responsibility. The state filed and enforced regulations that closed fisheries for exceedence of EITHER share or total harvestable. Shares were 50:50. The state (at least WDF, where I was then), contrary to conventional wisdom, won most of the challenges with the Tribes.

Then came the US/Canada Treaty. WA and OR really wanted it, because Canada was hammering our fish in hopes that e would have some influence on AK. Nobody else catches their fish, they catch everybody elses. But, the Tribes were threatening to file what was called the All-Citizen lawsuit. At that time, the 50:50 sharing was in Washington waters. They wanted it expanded to include harvests by non-Indians (of WA stocks) in AK. That would effectively close lots of WA fisheries or make AK manage for WA allocations. They said that if the Tribes filed the suit, they would not support the Treaty in the Senate. AK Senator Ted Stevens. So, WDF (Bill Wilkerson) offered co-management in trade for dropping the suit. Plus, the WA business community realized that Boldt II, the part where the Tribes were gyuaranteed dead fish in the boat (habitat) got their attention as habitat protection kinda interferes with profit.

So, the conservation ethic was dropped and replaced with "You manage your half, we'll manage ours". The State also agreed not to take the Tribes to court. Now, they run the show. It's not all bad, because without the Tribes there would be no wild fish as the State has shown little interest in conservation.

Most of the hunters and anglers are older and have lived through at least some of the Boldt implementation. They have seen 50:50 go away and be replaced by something that isn't even publicly presented; at least not clearly. ESA has further complicated things, as has the burgeoning pinnipeds, and crashing SRKWs and other fish species.

The Agency made a choice, in the recession, to go strongly away from GF monies so that they could be used elsewhere and return to getting money from the hook and bullet crowd, DJ and PR plus the mitigation monies designed to replace harvest lost through dams and such. This loss of funding is occurring in many states. I think CA may be down by 50% or some such.

When I started, most employees hunted and/or fished. Opening Day was an "all hands work"; Fish folks covered and reported on all the lakes, Wildlife folks did check stations. Now? I'll bet that there are leaders in the Fish program who have not done an Opening Day, much less actually fish. The resource used to be more than a job.

The agency has a very difficult job because the majority of folks in WA don't fish. don't hunt, don't pay to support the Agency, but have strong opinions as to how conservation should be conducted. The Agency, I think, really doesn't know what to do. The Tribes are the main political force in the State; they can't be challenged. The agency depends on access to private lands for hunting, yet they can't provide programs that satisfy the landowners.

Edited by Rivrguy (08/06/19 08:18 PM)
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in